At the very top of the top

People select hotels for all sorts of reasons, location, amenities and, of course, cost. When cost is not part of the equation there is a narrow slice of properties that stand head and shoulders above the rest: these are the ones selected because a friend told you it was the best place to be, you are after something unique, only available at that property, or you simply demand the very best of the best.
At the very top of the top
If your friends include Sir Elton John and his entourage of A-listers then his recommendation to stay at La Residence when visiting Franschhoek in the Western Cape Winelands is all you will need. If you are after the very best views of the rolling mountains that lead to Worcester and the privacy of being billeted in a private 30-acre estate with vineyards and plum tree groves and you want to experience the one-of-a-kind decor that founder and owner Liz Biden has curated, La Res is your only option.

There is nothing mini about it

The spaces at La Residence are all oversized and expansive, and the way they are decorated invites one, as a guest, to be more playful and whimsical than usual. Biden has ignored many of the so-called design rules and you must expect to find vast chandeliers, Iranian rugs and French antique armoire and a Louis IV writing desk in your bathroom, for example. And, speaking of spaces, the bathroom is almost the size of vast bedroom and sitting area.

In our Superior category suite 8, The Chambre Bleu, there is a magnificent carved timber four-poster bed that is so high there is no risk of the Tokolosh reaching you. I, in fact, had to use the tapestried footstool to hop onto the bed.

As this suite is at the end of the left wing, it provides for two deep verandas with views over the lawns and dams – the black swan is being kept busy shepherding the ducks in the pond while beyond there are Springbok in the enclosure. The other verandah looks towards the pool and the olive trees and mountains beyond. There is a majestic peacock that seems especially fond of suite 8. I suppose it would be unfair for such a beautiful creature to also have a lovely voice.

The maxi bar – there is nothing mini about anything at a Royal Portfolio property – is set into a French antique dresser with sink, kettle, Nespresso maker, full bar and a selection of hot chocolates and teas that would be sufficient to stock a teashop.

The Maharani Suite at the end of the other wing is where we stayed previously and that bed, raised on a three-tiered marble plinth, still remains as the most extraordinary one I’ve yet spent the night in.

It goes without saying that every aspect of the experience at a Royal Portfolio property is exquisite – from the linens to the Asprey bathroom amenities not to mention to the vast treasure of an art collection that Biden is generous enough to share with guests. It boggles the mind how much an endeavor can ever be profitable when simply the five-centimetre-thick marble on the bathroom splash back costs many, many multiples of the room rate.

At the very top of the top
New to La Residence since we last visited in 2010 are the Vineyard Suites and now the property is better able to manage the demand for friends and family travelling together. There is also a second pool and bar and dining area which is open to all guests but especially convenient to families staying in the five vineyard suites.

A passion for food and wine pairing

I was especially impressed by the cuisine on offer: Although a menu is provided, the chef is open to preparing whatever it is you’d like to eat and is adept at taking into consideration the many dietary proclivities that today’s travellers demand – myself included. Pastry chef Amy not only provided a delicious sugar-free, low carbohydrate Afternoon Tea but even made a selection of vegan and raw sweetmeats while chef Lennard demonstrated his classic training with a perfect demi-glace to accompany the roasted quail as well as a deft hand at a prawn and fish curry.

Food and wine pairing is a passion of the staff here and they offer an enviable local Franschhoek selection of wines and other artisan products. While preference is always given to residential guests, non-residents are welcome to enquire about a reservation for meals. It is hard to find a better offering in the Winelands.

Wellness in the wilderness: African tourism lends itself to wellness travel

The WTM Global Trends Report 2016 released recently in association with Euromonitor International, reveals that Africa’s tourism industry is ideally placed to benefit from current interests in wellness travel. According to the report, safari holidays – one of Africa’s most important segments – are increasingly including yoga, spa, and meditation as part of the itinerary.
Wellness in the wilderness: African tourism lends itself to wellness travel
©Marina Pissarova via 123RF
Wellness in the wilderness

The idea of “wellness in the wilderness” also resonates with travellers seeking unique and authentic experience, resulting in a demand for spiritual travel with an adventure component.

Furthermore, the Global Wellness Summit found that in 2014, wellness travel – defined as travel with a purpose of improving health and wellbeing – was growing at 74% more than regular global travel.

Another factor in the rise of Africa’s tourism is the emphasis on sustainable and reduced footprint holidays, with increasing importance placed on ensuring the benefits of tourism are directly and indirectly shared with the local economy.

Caroline Bremner, Euromonitor International head of travel, said: “Time spent with loved ones, including oneself, was consistently ranked as most important by respondents in our 2015 Global Consumer Trends Survey. Time is becoming crucial in a world where everything moves fast, so a safari in the middle of nowhere with loved ones is the ultimate form of wellness travel.”

Mindfulness travel

Mindfulness travel is a fairly new concept that looks to capitalise on the emotional and spiritual benefits of tourism. It is complementary to the wellness trend and is another opportunity for Africa.

South Africa and Kenya are embracing this trend, but Euromonitor International believes the entire region could benefit. The great animal migrations seen across Botswana and Tanzania could be the focus of a wellness or mindfulness travel experience.

World Travel Market, senior director, Simon Press said: “Wellness in the wilderness combines a number of emerging travel and consumer trends, and Africa lends itself to adventure and relaxation in a natural environment which can also satisfy the demand from travellers for a sustainable and responsible experience.

“The Africa region at WTM London 2016 will showcase a number of suppliers and destinations combining safaris and wellness, many of which are at the forefront of what is an increasingly important segment.” WTM London is the event where the travel and tourism industry conducts its business deals. Buyers from the WTM Buyers’ Club have a combined purchasing responsibility of $22.6 billion (£15.8bn) and sign deals at the event worth $3.6 billion (£2.5bn).

Love is in the air for couples and for the whole family

With jasmine and frangipani blossoms heavy in the air, this March full moon in Phuket is different. Far from the crowds and all-night parties of Patong and Karon Beach, there are two very different areas of Phuket to fall in love again with life.

Love is in the air for couples and for the whole family

When the limo collection at Phuket International Airport has John Paul Young’s Love is in the Air playing as you are transported from the airport 45-minutes into the hills of Thalang Choeng Thale, above Layan Beach, you know your stay at the adults-only Pavilions Phuket will be a special one. On entering the main gates, transport to your private pool villa is either by funicular or by golf buggies that quietly whizz up the steep hills and down. Set like a crown on top of the hill, Pavilions Phuket is one of the few resorts where you can enjoy watching the sun rise and then set again, an especially spectacular site as it dips into the Andaman Sea while enjoying cocktails and pan-Asian tapas at the accurately named 360° bar.

Upscale accommodations are elegant – an eclectic and contemporary mix of Asian cultures with a few traditional Thai elements. Interiors are in sexy reds and deep lacquered black hues and these villas are among the largest on the island. It is hard to imagine there might be villas even larger than our 275m² with 10m x 3.5m infinity pool and fabulous outdoor Thai Sala complete with white muslin curtains flowing in the tropical breeze.

If you’re among the guests who enjoy daily spa treatments, selecting the Pool and Spa Villas is the best thing to do. At Pavilions, the spa therapists come to you and set up your own, exclusive double spa suite, complete with sauna and steam room which you access from a lockable door in your living room. For me, this facility represents the ultimate in luxury. The three-bedroomed villa is a whopping 595m² on two floors while the Ocean View Pool Villa has a wraparound pool to be stepped into directly from your bedroom if you’d like to.

Love is in the air for couples and for the whole family

Private luxury

With all this private luxury around we were tempted to simply enjoy the facilities and not venture out but we were glad we took the four-times-daily shuttle to Layan Beach which is the sort of unspoiled beach you dream of going to. Although the hotel delivers you to the beach with plush beach mattresses and towels, reclining chairs and palm tree umbrellas are inexpensive to rent. We also enjoyed the food options on the beach. There is a regular drop off at an upscale shopping village which includes an international supermarket.

The cuisine was a highlight at Pavilions. An abundance of high-flavoured and fresh local ingredients means even breakfast at The Plantation Club restaurant is a must-do cuisine experience. When you want the exclusive and romantic privacy of an adults-only retreat, Pavilions is it.

Affordable self-catering for the family

If you’re visiting Phuket with your family it is still best to avoid the more crowded areas. We selected Dewa Nai Yang Resort because of its five-minute proximity to the airport and position in the Sirinath National Park on the northwest coast. You can walk from Dewa to the beach in a few steps or take any of the bicycles to explore nearby markets including an authentic weekend market selling everything from jeans to freshly caught calamari.

Love is in the air for couples and for the whole family

Our accommodation in The Residence, a self-catering wing of Dewa, is ideally suited to a family travelling together, yet with all the comforts you’d expect from a resort along with the flexibility of preparing your own food. There is a well-equipped kitchen with electric hob, microwave, and large fridge. There is a wide range of room types, including walled Pool Villas if you’d rather not self-cater.

There are free daily shuttles into Central, about 30 minutes away, a massive shopping mall, and to the famous Thalang Road of the Old City with its Sino-Portuguese mansions and shophouses. They will also deliver you to Patong if you’re after the much written about Phuket nightlife.

Breakfast buffet to sustain you for the whole day

There are a spa and gym at Dewa along with a Kids Club. The Residence has its own pool but all Dewa guests can enjoy all the facilities. Breakfast includes a la carte options as well as a buffet selection of Thai and Oriental favourites along with cheeses, cold cuts and pastries favoured by the Western palate. The Bread & Butter bakery and coffee shop on the site serves standout coffee. There is also a Wine & Cheese shop. The Terrace Grill, where breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served and adjacent Bamboo Bar overlook the pool and onwards to the beach.

For guests in self-catering suites, there is a grocery delivery service from the Tesco Lotus supermarket if you’d rather not shop yourself. It is well stocked, albeit difficult to navigate on account of all the product labels being in Thai. A 7-Eleven mini mart is about a 10-minute walk away.

Wherever you base yourself in Phuket, you will experience the Thai hospitality as palpably as the balmy equatorial climate. Sea conditions are very changeable as Phuket transitions into the rainy season from May and while daily, cooling downpours should be expected in the wet season, much of the day can be dry and inviting. Experiencing the Andaman Sea flat and clear as glass during our visit, it is hard to think how it might change.

Family Travel Destinations In The Us

Looking for the great family destination in US. One that might be drivable also if not presents the domestic travel charge? This record is from the areas all over country so everybody will benefit. New York City (NY) – Take the Broadway show like Lion King, to go to the Central Park as well as expose your children with some delicious food. You can hang out at the kid friendly hotel such as the Doubletree Guest Suites, The Hilton Times Square or The Four Seasons Hotel in New York that offers the tons of family facilities that includes the extra large rooms, entertainment complex (Hilton) as well as the child-proofing. Grand Canyon (AZ) – Another great destination in US it has the series of actions to become the Junior Ranger, study about why the water is very important to the Canyon and get a hike all along the hundreds of trails and also make sure that you follow all the guides. The Yellowstone National Park – Here are the myriad of enjoyable activities at Yellowstone include the hiking, horse riding, boating, the camping, taking the Yellowstone class as well as many more. Yellowstone is the home of the hundreds of wildlife plus allows us to get the big burst of the nature only in one great destination of US. Pennsylvania Dutch Country – Lots of think to think when this Dutch Country comes in our mind and there are also some ways to learn as well as explore about them. On the other hand there are the bunch of fun plus family activities to do: The Cherry Crest farm; Longwood; Strasburg Rail Road; and many more – there are many to list. Mount Rushmore National Park – Take the picture of the history for your kids. In addition presidential front of the Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial is also being imprinted as we speak as well as will be one of the largest in world when finished. Other great family destination in US is to be found at Journey Museum or by taking the jeep safari in the grasslands. You might even observe some buffalo wander. Also Checkout the Badlands National Parks when you are there also explore two of U.S.’s highest caves, Wind Cave as well as Jewel Cave. San Diego – This is one of the great family destination of US it is a beautiful city that offers it all; the white beaches, some family attractions, vast shopping and outstanding food. The beaches at San Diego cannot ever be beaten; there are about 70 miles along the coast. San Diego is the home to the Balboa Park, aka Smithsonian in the West, which is the home for San Diego Zoo; there are 15 museums as well as 8 gardens. Other few attractions include the Legoland California as well as the SeaWorld. Boston (MA) – The Boston is another great family destination in US The Children’s Museum is the largest as well as the most action crowded in the country. There are about 20 few other museums in the Boston includes Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum, New England Pirate Museum as well as the Harvard University Museum. As well as the cultural feature of the city you can also check out Boston Harbor Islands, get in Blueman Show plus visit favorite, Quincy’s Market for great entertainment, food as well as shopping. Published at:

Last Minute Family Travel

We might all have some great daydreams about taking our family on the perfect vacation, whether it is to see Disneyland or on a cruise to the Bahamas, but more often than not, life intervenes. There might be accidents or problems and you might find that your plans get knocked for a loop. The important thing to remember is that you are not alone and that there are options for you. More people than you might believe end up doing some last minute travel preparations and even if you have the majority of the trip to plan and not much time to plan it , you will find that last minute family travel is not nearly as bad as you might think. When thinking about planning some last minute family travel, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, make sure you know where you are going and why. Are you or your children (or preferably both) interested in it? Just because a destination is popular does not make it a good idea. Remember that there are no universally perfect vacations, just perfect ones for you! Speak with your family about it; you might be surprised by what comes up as being a great place to visit. Remember that when you engage in last minute family travel that some methods of travel are more forgiving than others. For instance, there is a good chance that trying to travel by air will be difficult if not impossible. Unless you manage to luck into some truly stupendous deals, you will end up paying a great deal of money for your tickets. Investigate other forms of travel. Of course, driving is one of the greatest and most convenient ways to travel, but if you have the need for speed, you might be stuck with a plane ticket. If speed is less of a concern, consider taking a train. It’s roughly equivalent to the speed of a car, depending on where you are going, and you will find that you will have time to enjoy yourself. When you are thinking about last minute family travel, this does not mean that you can skimp on calling ahead to get hotel rooms. Some places will even allow you to make reservations online, so make sure that you have a plan on where you will spend the night. You never know when a convention or a local sporting event will tie up every hotel room within 10 miles, so make sure that you have a good idea of where you and your family are sleeping. Even if you are calling less than 24 hours in advance, you will still beat out the walk ins who show up after your call. As you can see, there are plenty of ways to make sure that your traveling goes smoothly, no matter when you have planned it. There are always options open to you, no matter where you are, so to get some great ideas and solutions, head to and see what other fast ideas and swift savings you can find! Published at:

Family Travel Adventure

Family is one of the most important things in the world and we should cherish it. How can we show our appreciation for having a good family? Plan a family travel adventure! One way of spending quality time with your family is to travel together. It will make the family bond together and get closer to each other. There are a lot of things to do when you travel, you can go to different places, visit those kids friendly park, try new things and a lot more. Activities Family vacations should be enjoyable and productive. You should also consider what adventures will suit you and your kids. If your kids love to travel, these places and activities are perfect. Theme Parks/ Amusement Parks/ National parks This place never ceases to bring joy and laughter to children. Family adventure in theme parks will not only be fun but will also be educational. There are theme parks that will give additional knowledge to the children. And if you and your children want to experience thrill and excitement, the best family adventure will be trying all the rides in the amusement parks. Anywhere in the world there are numerous amusement parks. Camping, Hiking, Canoeing, Biking If your family is very athletic the best adventure is going outdoors in the wild! You can enjoy your vacation by camping in the woods; it releases stress from the work and also from the school. The change of scenery will also be good for the health. But before going to some strange mountains or camping site, you should know what to bring and what to do to ensure the safety of your family vacation. Same with hiking and biking, these are great adventures. If your children are old enough, you can try canoeing or rafting, it’s a water sport that will give you adrenaline rush and a great adventure. Family vacations will never be dull if you try these activities. Shopping It’s always a must that when one travels to a different place, there’s always a shopping expedition. It would be a great family adventure to look for souvenirs and items that will remind your family the good times you have in that certain place. Simple shopping with kids will be quite enjoyable even if you don’t have to travel in a far away place. Golf and Other Sports Activities It’s also important to know the sports that interest your children, not only it will be a wonderful family vacation, it will help enhance your child’s skill in that certain sport. It will also help their self-esteem to know that you support them. Going to the Beaches This is one of the most common places for a vacation. Children can frolic in the sand and parents can relax under the warm heat of the sun. Aside from that, they can also try the different water sports activities, a family adventure that you will never forget. Wherever you go or whatever you do, the important thing is that the family has the chance to get to know each other, form a bond and be a strong one. Enjoy your travel time with your family and have a memorable time with them. Published at:

Cheap Annual Family Travel Insurance: Travel Without Tensions!

The growth of fast and speedy communication system has given a boom to traveling industry. Many people are traveling at regular intervals to different places, be it home or abroad. Earlier, people went for holidaying only once a year, because of the harassment and the price involved in traveling. But because of the presence of this speedy and cheap transportation system, families all over UK have started traveling more than once a year. However, emergencies may happen any time; you might need emergency medical treatments, flight cancellation. All these can empty your savings account to a great extent. Therefore you should definitely buy a cheap and affordable family travel insurance policy for you as well as your family. Who does not want their family to be safe and secured, either at home or when they are not at home? But, we are no God! Misfortunes do happen; instead of crying over what has happened, we can prevail over those misfortunes. A Cheap and affordable annual travel insurance will assist you in overcoming this. Many people in UK are not so much enthusiastic about buying a family travel insurance policy because they assume that a family travel insurance policy is only for the wealthy few. But, that was the case some years back; today with the coming up of many travel insurance companies, the cost of family travel insurance has also drastically come down. So before any misfortune strikes and you lose all your money, be secured with a cheap family travel insurance policy. Cheap annual family travel insurance will not only ensure the safety of your family when you are traveling with them, but also when they are traveling alone with some other groups. Say for instance you can get coverage for your child who is traveling in school trips, or your wife who is traveling with her friends. Wherever you are planning to go, it is advisable not to step out of your homes without a cheap family annual travel insurance. A thorough research of the market has to be undertaken, if you want a cheap family annual travel insurance. This study and research is now made much easier with the internet facilities. You can compare any number of companies that are offering you with cheap family travel insurance and purchase the best policy out of all those policies. So go get cheap family travel insurance now! Published at:

Ensure The Safety Of Your Family With Family Travel Insurance

When it comes to your family, do you want to ever put them in trouble especially when they are traveling? Obviously no! You would want to ensure that wherever they go, whenever they go, they would be safe and secure and if some emergency situations come up, they would overcome those situations safely. So you should definitely buy family travel insurance to ensure the well being of your family when they are not in their home country. If your kids are small, you may never know what the day may bring for them; for example chicken pox, and other illness; you might never know when you will have to cancel your trip. So buying family travel insurance can assist you out of all these problems. There are various travel insurance agencies in UK that will provide you with the perfect family travel insurance which will be tailored according to your requirements. You can simply choose from the different types of plans that fall under family travel insurance. If your family wants to take only a single trip round the year, it is a rational decision to buy a single trip travel insurance plan. But if you and your family members are frequent travelers, then you should definitely go for multi-trip or annual travel insurance. If you or your family is a sports fan and would be engaging in risky activities such as bungee jumping, paragliding, mountain climbing, then you may consider the adventurous sports family travel insurance. The risks that are covered by family travel insurance plan are: • Flight Cancellation • Curtailment • Delayed departure of flights • Loss of baggage and even travel documents while on the go. • Medical treatment anywhere in the world Before purchasing any family travel insurance, you should carefully read and re-read the documents and brochures of the insurance company. You should also decide on the type of plan you want; say for instance if you are the parent of a small kind, you would definitely not want to engage in risky activities and thus leave adventurous sports and activities aside and so on and so forth. You must carefully compare the quotes as provided by different companies. This research is made much easier with the internet facilities. You can compare hundreds of such companies at an instant through the internet. So without delay purchase a family travel insurance plan now. Published at: